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Fiberglass Bearcats overun campus

bearcat mania

No one suspected potential evil lurked behind the Bearcat clones that began mysteriously appearing across the University of Cincinnati campus in early October 2002. Clever names like "Elizabeth Bearcat Browning" and "Lady Libearty" may have lulled people into a false sense of obscurity, but the university magazine staff could see the dark possibilities that lay beyond the 4-foot-tall, fiberglass bobble-head mascots and Elvis impersonators.

Sure, cleverly clothed creations could be charming, possibly endearing, but where would university departments and supporters stop in playing Dr. Frankenstein? Our investigative reporting revealed fake president Stegers lying in wait and pseudo doctors scrubbing up to head into operating rooms. Someone had to halt the Alumni Association's Mascot Mania charade, and we knew just whom to call.

Clark Cat, the magazine's "cub" reporter, dove into a phone booth to reveal the Superbear hiding beneath the mild-mannered glasses and fedora. Able to leap Crosley Tower in a single bound, this bearcat would rescue campus and raise money for the Presidential Scholarship, all faster than a speeding student late for class.

In the end, he rounded up 54 fiberglass impostors, including the "Cat and Gown," dressed for graduation, and a tuxedo-clad "Li-bear-ace Cat," posed on a piano. Fortunately, all were auctioned off at the Presidential Ball before any damage was done, and Clark carefully monitored their behavior the following weekend during a special homecoming appearance.

In the end, ball bids and homecoming votes resulted in a popularity contest with awards presented at halftime. The white-haired "Dr. Steg-RRR," created by the Student Alumni Association, won the Best of Breed Award, showing more superhero potential than Clark in raising $2,000 single paw-ed-ly.

Other awards went to the "Cat-tue of Li-bear-ty," created by Administrative and Business Services and voted on by faculty and staff; the "Bandsman Binturong," created by the Bearcat Band and voted on by homecoming attendees; and "You See UC Sports," created by UC Athletics and selected by homecoming sponsors Fifth Third Bank and Liberty Mutual.

Not the least bit disappointed with the results, Clark bid us farewell to take up residence with his new owner, alumni association officer Phillip Lanham. In his final words, our cub reporter reminded us that awards were less important than the scholarships raised and the festive atmosphere created on campus. He gave us paws to think.

Bearcat mania

From left:

"University of Cincinnati Horizons" magazine's "cub" reporter Clark Cat grabs his cape and dives into a phone booth, where he stashes his most recent journalistic endeavor. Clark's three editors -- Deb Rieselman, John Bach and Mary Niehaus -- and artist Dawn High created him and his phone booth with help from Dale Reith, all as part of the Alumni Association's Mascot Mania event in 2002. Photo/Lisa Ventre.

Marti Humes hugs the "Cat-tue of Li-bear-ty" after she and her husband, Tom, BusAd '71, MBA '77, placed the winning bid at the Presidential Ball. Created by UC Administrative and Business Services, the mascot received the UC's Choice award from the faculty and staff. Photo/Lisa Ventre.

President Joseph Steger comes close to patting himself on the head as he poses with two Bearcats designed in his honor. The Student Alumni Council and the Young Alumni Association sponsored "Dr. Steg-RRR" (foreground), which received the Best of Breed award for generating $2,000, the highest bid of the nearly $30,000 grossed on 54 mascots at October's Presidential Ball. The Division of the University Architect sponsored his partner "Building a Better Bearcat." Photo/Lisa Ventre.

Two homecoming guests flip through Clark's reporter's notebook full of quotes from famous alumni. The fiberglass bearcats were cast from a mold created by alumnus sculptor Steve Brauch. Photo/Dottie Stover.

The athletic department's "You See UC Sports" entry, designed by Olympic diver Becky Ruehl, DAAP '99, and dubbed the Most Creative by homecoming sponsors. Tim Murphy and his nephew, Brad Greene, pause to check out the "internal" history of UC sports for themselves. Photo/Dottie Stover.